Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Empty Shop

Posted by , on January 21st, 2014

There are just a couple of days to go now before the Empty Shop project begins in Manchester’s Arndale Centre.

Starting on Thursday 23 January, for the first time in the UK, the concept will bring a unique way of donating clothing to charity over a ten-day period. In a subversion of the traditional shopping process, The Empty Shop works on the principle that the public “bring clothes to the shop instead of taking them from the shop”, according to a promotional video.

A novel approach to giving to charity, the concept is very simple: donate; style-up; empty. People contribute their pre-loved clothing, which is then displayed by the shop’s team of stylists and fashion bloggers. At the end of the day, the clothes will be taken over to Mustard Tree, where they will be distributed to those in need, given to other charities, or sold in our shops.

A collaboration between Mustard Tree, shop and bar fitters Clarke Gough, and Manchester Arndale, The Empty Shop is a Mancunian take on an idea pioneered in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The VillaLobos shopping mall was originally home to ‘A Loja Vazia’ (Brazilian for The Empty Shop), which, in attempting to reinvent the clothing drive, managed to collect 3.2 tons of clothes for charity.

Loducca, the ad agency behind the initiative, also open-sourced the project by making available the shop’s blueprint, key visuals and communication packs so that “anyone who wants to spread goodwill” can use the idea. That’s where Clarke Gough came in; they have been building the wooden pop-up shop over the past few weeks which will be set up on the ground floor, outside Next of Manchester Arndale on Wednesday night, ready for the launch on Thursday.

Mustard Tree extends special thanks to Ben Davies of Clarke Gough, whose dedication to getting the project off the ground has been inspirational. It was Ben who approached Mustard Tree about getting involved, negotiated with Manchester Arndale to provide a free space, and arranged PR for the shop, after seeing the video about the very first Empty Shop.

Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, Ben aimed to dispel any confusion about how the project will work: “You don’t buy the clothes, they get donated by the public each day, displayed in the shop and then the shop gets emptied every night. The clothes are the spectacle and act as a form of exchange to bring people closer to the issue. We think that’s more engaging than asking people for money.”

Mustard Tree is privileged to be in such esteemed company and part of such a great scheme which will raise awareness about homelessness, clothing drives, and the necessity of charity. Here’s hoping the people of Manchester will show their generosity in donating clothes over the ten-day period.

During the shop’s short lifespan you can keep up with what’s going on using the social media handles below:
Twitter: @EmptyShopMCR Facebook: /EmptyShopMCR Instagram: EmptyShopMCR

Written by Jamie Faulkner, Firecask

Hope 2014, Pray Love Manchester and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Posted by , on January 13th, 2014

Nights of Prayer for the Poor January poster-page-001

The Empty Shop

Posted by , on December 20th, 2013

Manchester Arndale 23 January – 2 February 2014

This winter, Manchester is proud to announce a new and exciting charity fashion collaboration ‘The Empty Shop’.

‘Donate. Style-up. Empty’

Coming to the UK for the first time, January 2014 will see an award winning open source project brought to you by Mustard Tree, Clarke Gough and Manchester Arndale. This innovative fashion and charity project will create a greater awareness of homelessness in the Manchester area.

“The Empty Shop’ will stand proud within Manchester Arndale for a ten day period. With this amazing concept, we will see the general public donate pre-loved clothes to fill up the Empty Shop. Fashion bloggers, Stylists and fashion faces will be transforming the store with show stopping looks made from the donations. Every evening the store is emptied and the clothes go onto help those in need this winter. Then the next day, we start over again!”

Mustard Tree will not only be distributing the clothes across the city, but selling good quality pieces in our own stores to raise money to help fund programmes that are working directly on the causes of homelessness in Manchester. Adrian Nottingham, CEO of Mustard Tree said, “Mustard Tree is delighted to be participating in this innovative project. We are proud that Manchester is taking a lead in seeking to broker practical solutions and raise awareness of the plight of the increasing number of its residents facing homelessness and marginalization”. 

Throughout the ten days not only will people be able to donate alongside famous fashion faces and fashion brands, but they can also be part of a new chapter, bringing charity and fashion together!

Launching the 23 January 2014 at 2pm with a press, media and celebrity launch, we will see the first donations and pieces being displayed within The Empty Shop. All core partners to the event will be present to show their support including Shop fitters Clarke Gough, Mustard Tree and Manchester Arndale. This project is supported by Manchester City Council.

For any more imagery, press information or details please contact Guess Who PR via For a sneak peak at the project from Loducca in São Paulo, watch this video!

Twitter: @EmptyShopMCR Facebook: /EmptyShopMCR Instagram: EmptyShopMCR

StandFirm Wins Prestigious Yunus Award

Posted by , on December 9th, 2013

Yunus Award

On Wednesday 27th November StandFirm, a community interest company, owned by Mustard Tree, won the Greater Manchester Business award at the Yunus Social Business Awards.

The awards are endorsed by Professor Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel Peace Prize winner whose life’s work has been to prove that the poor are credit-worthy. He set up Grameen bank in Bangladesh with the aim of providing microloans to entrepreneurs who were too poor to qualify for traditional credit.

The Yunus awards recognise business activity that addresses a social need and benefits communities. In StandFirm’s case, the need they identified was one “for those struggling in life to find stability, confidence and a clear path forward”.

The Ancoats-based enterprise, managed by Mike Green, works with our Freedom Project to offer training and employment to those who had enrolled in the scheme. In this way, StandFirm provides a way to overcome the final hurdle for those looking to get back on track: “In many cases the trainees are highly skilled and have an amazing work ethic but just need somebody to offer them a second chance.”  

StandFirm primarily operates a Voids Project, offering a professional and reliable service for clearing properties. Their teams removed over 1000 tonnes of waste from houses in 2011-2013, cleared over 1600 properties, and have provided work experience to around 80 people, some of which have gained employment with StandFirm. As well as recruiting their staff from Freedom Project clients, StandFirm gifts all its profit to us.  

They are looking to develop the company further by obtaining new contracts and clearing more houses, which in turn will enable them to take on more staff and offer more employment opportunities for the disadvantaged of Greater Manchester.

Congratulations to Mike and the team from everyone at Mustard Tree and keep up the good work!

You can like StandFirm on their Facebook page or follow their progress on Mike Green’s Twitter profile

Daniel Abram’s Just Giving

Posted by , on December 3rd, 2013

Given our recent comments on ‘ethical consumerism’ and the beginning of the Electronic Music Production Course, it seems very fitting that local musician and producer Daniel Abram has combined the art of song and the act of charity.

Daniel, who produces music under the name House of Lucid Dreams, has set up a JustGiving page for his first track The Wind where you make a download in exchange for a donation to Mustard Tree. He describes his music as “Deep Ambient Techno fused with Tribal Balearic House”, so veterans of Sankeys and Ibiza-lovers will surely find something to enjoy.

He came across Mustard Tree while searching for a charity that “was looking at the long term as well as the immediate problem of hungry people with no home”.  In his own words, his aim is to “raise a little pot of money” so that we can continue “taking on the immediate problem by doing their soup runs, whilst also tackling the long term issues building peoples employability and confidence.”

Coming into contact with homeless people every day, he was inspired to raise money at a time of year when those living on the streets or in temporary accommodation are particularly vulnerable: “every year when it turns cold I always think of them and how horrendous it must be to be out on the street”.

The minimum donation to download the track is £1, but the more people are willing to give the better. To give you an idea of where this money will go, here is a breakdown of the costs:

  • £1600 pays for an individual to participate and graduate from our life transforming Freedom Project
  • £150 keeps a van running to pick up donations and deliver furniture for 1 week
  • £100 allows us to equip a single person’s home with furniture
  • £50 allows us to donate a cooker to someone in need
  • £20 pays for a food parcel to feed a family for 5 days
  • £10 pays for a food parcel to feed a hungry person for 5 days

You can check out other tunes by Daniel at his SoundCloud page for House of Lucid Dreams. And for other ways to give to Mustard tree, see our Get Involved page.

Charity Shops and Conscious Consumerism

Posted by , on December 3rd, 2013

It’s dubbed “conscious consumerism.” Instead of donating money to a worthy cause, you buy ‘gifts that give back’. Then you go about your shopping safe in the knowledge that you’ve done a little bit of good. With more and more people considering the ethical and environmental impact of their purchases, conscious consumerism is sure to be the way forward.

Of course, there are already plenty of ‘giving’ schemes. Tesco do it with children’s school uniforms in their ‘You Buy One, We Give One’ range, donating a complete school uniform to children in Sri Lanka, Kenya and Bangladesh. TOMs, the footwear brand known mainly for their espadrilles, operates a ONE for ONE giving program where every pair of shoes bought is matched by one given to communities around the world. Over in the states Blanket America gives a donation for every blanket bought. And, oftentimes, you’ll buy tickets to an event and there’ll be a clause saying “x per cent of ticket sales goes to such and such a charity”. This year, One Direction fans were no doubt overjoyed that £200K of the band’s tour revenue is going to supporting Stand Up to Cancer.

But we mustn’t forget there has long been another way of “conscious consumerism” and one that has traditionally given back directly to local communities: charity shops. The earliest example of one allegedly popped up in Wolverhampton in 1899, but the charity shop really took hold during the Second World War when the Red Cross opened several hundred “gift” shops as they were known. Fast forward to the present day and charity shops are still thriving. According to the Daily Mail, there has been a 30% increase in the number of shops since the financial crash in 2008.

Despite accusations that charity shops cause “High Street decline”, research conducted by think tank Demos has reported that they benefit the high street in numerous ways, boosting local business, combatting unemployment and even tackling social isolation. By recycling items they are also hugely green businesses, lowering emissions by an amount “roughly equivalent to the entire carbon footprint of Iceland.” Furthermore, charity shops are clearly answering a need; and not just one for cheap stuff. Demos found that 80% of volunteers of volunteers at charity shops were working there to gain retail experience as a path to paid employment. The majority of volunteers also cited socialising and improved physical and mental health as an added benefit of the work.

001 Apr13

This is something that Mustard Tree can attest to. While our shops are a way to make the charity more self-sufficient, they are moreover a gateway into our community and a platform for many of our volunteers and clients to gain valuable life skills. Both at our headquarters in Ancoats and at our Eccles shop, you can see first-hand the impact that the shop has and how the sale of donated clothing, furniture and other items helps fund our cause. When you’re thinking about giving to charity, we know that what puts a lot of people off is how difficult it is to see the impact of your donations. At the Mustard Tree it is much easier to see where the money goes. Just come in and see for yourself!

But our guess is not that many of you know about the Mustard Tree’s shops? While those who frequent the Northern Quarter will have no doubt popped into second-hand shops such as Ryan Vintage and Pop or charity shops like Oxfam Originals, they might not have ventured that little bit further. Yet head up Oldham Street and onto Oldham Road and you’ll find a new addition to your bargain-hunting, ethical-consuming ways. Getting lost? The shop’s entrance is opposite the Pagoda-like structure of Wing Yip’s building. For those in the Salford area, the Eccles shop, based on the edge of the Precinct, was set up for those clients who struggle to make it into Ancoats.  

There’s a huge range of items on offer across the shops: we take furniture and have three vans that collect large items such as sofas, beds and wardrobes; we have a wide variety of clothing from the practical to the stylish; and we stock household goods and electrical items. All electrical equipment is PAT tested and checked to ensure it is functioning correctly before sale. We also offer a 25% discount to anyone in receipt of housing, employment or incapacity benefits.

But (here comes the moral of the story!) for this cycle to continue, we need you to donate your unwanted stuff. At this time of year, especially, people are looking for cheap, warm clothing. So what can you do? Take a little time out of your day to sort through your stuff and see what you could part with. Look back over the year: have you got a hoard of jumpers that haven’t seen the light of day in ages? Is there a Slow Cooker gathering dust in a cupboard? Maybe you’ve upgraded some furniture recently? Don’t cart it all off to the tip or dump it in a bin as happens all too often. Come see us instead.

You don’t have to donate in order to help, however. After all, that’s what this post has been getting at: buying is helping. You can visit our shops and potentially find the perfect gift for friends and family this festive season. Or you can pop in for a browse and inquire about all the projects we have going on. Either way, we hope to see you soon! 

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Written by Jamie Faulkner, Firecask

Eccles Giving Day

Posted by , on November 19th, 2013

Eccles Giving day

What Does Freedom Mean To You?

Posted by , on November 12th, 2013

Freedom can mean different things to different people. It’s such an open-ended concept, one that often boils down to the capacity to make your own decisions, whatever they might be. For many it would mean not having to worry about money or economic pressures. For many more it would be the right to express themselves through speech, religion, and sexuality. For some it would be something as simple as being able to hold hands with someone of the opposite gender. For others it’s something as complex as overthrowing a dictatorship.

For the thousands of homeless people in the UK, freedom can often mean stability and the chance to make choices about their futures.

Mustard Tree’s Freedom Project is a life skills and work readiness program aimed at helping people who’ve had more barriers than usual to moving on in life and achieving independence: barriers such as homelessness, mental health issues, addiction recovery or a criminal record. The overall goal of the project is to equip participants with the sort of skills and experience that will improve their likelihood of future employment and (arguably more importantly) give them a sense of belonging to a community. With that in mind, participants work within Mustard Tree and learn about the key areas of our operation, from customer services and office admin, to catering and waste recycling.

Many of the people on the Freedom Project are unemployed and have no recent work experience. The Life Stories section of our website gives an idea of the backgrounds of several people who’ve benefited from the project and the problems they’ve faced, from self-esteem issues to concerns about lack of experience. Over a 20-week period, the scheme aims to change these attitudes and not only gives participants valuable work-based skills but also an idea of what it’s like to be in the workplace. This experience can provide them with so-called ‘soft’ skills, like time management, communication, and teamwork, as well as a current work reference and an up-to-date CV.

Meanwhile, we act as a hub for those on the Freedom Project and provide several services which they can benefit from, including counsellingmentoringart classes and drama workshops. Towards the end of the project, there is even the possibility of a 4-week, unpaid, work placement with a Manchester-based business.

With more and more people being affected by homelessness in Greater Manchester, Mustard Tree’s Freedom Project and all its services are more necessary than ever. A recent survey commissioned by Homeless Link found that a third of people had experienced homelessness or knew someone who had. Making sure that charities like ours can continue to offer valuable services is a matter of investment, but also one of breaking down of the misconceptions that surround the issue and continuing to change how homelessness is perceived. Being homeless is about so much more than just sleeping rough. In fact most homeless people don’t sleep on the street (although increasing cuts to charities and public sector services could see that change.) The term applies to those staying temporarily in hostels or B&Bs, squatting, or couch surfing; anyone who doesn’t have a fixed abode or a home they can or want to go back to. And helping the homelessness situation is also about more than just providing these people with homes.

After all, what good is finding permanent accommodation for someone if they don’t have any prospects of employment or don’t feel like there’s a support network for them? The Freedom Project aims to give a more holistic approach to the problems associated with homelessness and help participants rebuild their lives while instilling them with self-belief. As one participant put it, “Things that I would choose to hide away from previously, I now tackle with confidence. In turn this has boosted my self-esteem and my belief that I can achieve goals that previously didn’t seem possible.”

To go from a place that often involves isolation and fear, to feeling like you can achieve your dreams, what could be a better example of freedom?

To get involved with the project, check out our Volunteering section.  

Written by Jamie Faulkner, Firecask

2013 Manchester Sleepout

Posted by , on November 10th, 2013


Mustard Tree’s Organisational Development Manager, Soraya took part in the third Manchester Sleepout organised by the Booth Centre. On Friday 8 December, Soraya packed up her things and headed down to Manchester Cathedral to ‘sleep rough’ for the night as she wanted to have a better understanding of what it is like to be homeless. In her blog entitled ‘The Night I Was Homeless’, she describes her experiences. 

Amazing News!

Posted by , on October 2nd, 2013

Anthony Preston Paper


The future of Mustard Tree looks far more secure following some astonishing news. Anthony Preston, the landlord of our current headquarters, a 21,000ft2 warehouse in Ancoats, has made known his intention to gift the premises to us.

We have been operating from 110 Oldham Road, a stones-throw from the city centre, for the past 8 years. We use the premises as a base from which we offer various levels of life support for the homeless and marginalised. We provide food, clothing, furniture, electrical goods, training, mentoring and work experience, with the aim of supporting clients towards long-term solutions.

Working with over 4,500 clients each year, the Ancoats base has become a bustling hub of activity, offering everything from a food bank to furniture recycling, and employment skills to art classes. However, for many of the clients and volunteers engaged on a daily basis, the premises are better described as a “sanctuary” or a “second home”; somewhere they feel respected and valued. We have established a reputation as a place where people feel there is hope; and with it, the opportunity to make real progress towards a healthier and better life.

We also share our home to the Boaz Trust and to Image, two charities conducting vital front-line work for people in crisis, often at their wits end with nowhere else to go. Various other organisations also use the premises on a regular basis to provide support for people recovering from addictions, battling with mental health issues or struggling in other ways.

Adrian Nottingham, our CEO states: “Our landlord and his family have always been active supporters of Mustard Tree, but this gift is incredibly generous and humbling. It means that the long-term sustainability of Mustard Tree takes a very big step forward. I am so pleased for the many good people that Mustard Tree works with; the reassurance that 110 Oldham Road will remain open for them will be welcomed at a time when hope is in short supply.”

Anthony Preston states, “We are very happy to help and support Mustard Tree in this particular way. We have watched the way it has developed and sought to respond to the needs of those who access its services and interventions. My father would have been very proud to see the old warehouse being put to such positive use and providing a secure and permanent home for Mustard Tree.”

The gift of the building allows us to now plan for the future, not just in terms of raising the essential money we need to deliver our services year-to-year; but to plan for the next decade.  “There is no doubt that times are hard” states Adrian, adding. “We’re seeing huge increases in demand for all our services, and we need to make sure that we build a long-term strategy to provide that critical framework of access, enablement and support that thousands have come to rely on from us.” Thanks to Anthony and his most generous gift, we feel that this is now possible and we look forward to what the future holds.